Photo by Jimmy Su
Thacher’s Ellis Delvecchio powers down the homestretch in the CIF State Track and Field Championship. The Ojai native took first place in the boys’ 800-meter final to become the first person in the school’s 133-year history to win the state title in track and field. By Mike Miller
Ojai Valley is home to the 2022 CIF California State boys 800-meter champion. On May 28, The Thacher School’s Ellis Delvecchio took on the best middle-distance runners in the state of California, and in the nation, for that matter. Delvecchio, an Ojai native, shocked the high school track-and-field world as he won the state final in a blazing fast time of 1:50.82.
“It’s pretty neat and it feels good,” said the senior. Despite having a stellar junior season, Delvecchio was anything but a favorite to win the state title as a senior. In fact, the improvement he displayed this season is quite impressive. As a junior, Delvecchio covered the two-lap race in a personal best time of 1:55.5. This season, he lowered his personal best time to an impressive 1:50.13, a mark that would make most Division I coaches drool. “Coming into this season, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do in terms of time, but I did know that my coach had an athlete (Cameron Kunde, Nordhoff High School) run 1:51.9 and I wanted to beat that time.
About midway through the season, it became apparent that I could not only make it to the state finals, but win,” he said. In the finals of the state meet, Delvecchio led from wire-to-wire, a strategy that can backfire at times. “I know it was risky to go out fast and then try to hold on, but it was my most effective strategy this season. I like getting out front and just running my race rather than focusing on what my opponents are doing and fighting for position. I really think I could have set a new personal best in that race, but it was the windiest race I’ve ever run,” added Delvecchio.
Track and field runs in the Delvecchio family genes, so it’s no wonder they have produced a state champion. Both his parents and siblings competed in track and field, and they were actively involved with the Ojai Roadrunner Track Club for many years as a family. “That’s where I got my start. My parents were coaches and my dad was the president of the club as well,” he added. Delvecchio still hasn’t been able to celebrate his state championship with his Thacher classmates yet, because they were on an annual camping trip while he was off claiming gold. He said, “None of them even know yet, so it’ll be fun to tell them when they get back.” When asked about his drastic improvement this season, Delvecchio mentioned his coach and training partner. Ed Italo served as Delvecchio’s coach during this impressive stretch of his career. “Ed is an excellent coach and he loves track and is passionate.
The 800 is a tough event and he really helped me with the mental component of my racing.” His training partner was Liam Gair of Villanova Prep, who also made some noise at the state championships. Gair made the finals in the 400 meters and finished in eighth place with a time of 49.02. Like Delvecchio, the VPS senior emerged as a state and national power on the track this season after posting a personal best time of 47.54. “It is nice to have a training partner like Liam. He has incredible speed and it’s just nice to have someone you can get through tough workouts with. He had such a great season, which was nice and I’m happy for him,” he said. Now that his time as a Toad is up, Delvecchio will take his athletic and academic talents to Claremont McKenna College. “They have incredible academics, which is what I am focused on. The track team has some fast kids as well, so that’ll be fun,” Delvecchio concluded. Delvecchio’s state championship is the first in the history of The Thacher School and he single-handedly solidified a 13th place team finish for the Toads out of 86 schools with his winning run. Read coach Ed Italo's account of Delvecchio and Gair getting to the State Championship's at:https://bit.ly/3zgRKUO